Many people spend at least half the year awaiting the return of summer. They dream of long, hot days, and weather warm enough to allow them to finally expose their skin to the sunlight. There are some places, however, where summer is an almost perpetual state of being—where the heat can get unbearable and the sun is something to seek respite from rather than revel in. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the hottest place in the world is Death Valley in California, where temperatures reached 134ºF/ 56.7ºC on July 10, 1913. This article takes a look at eight of the hottest cities in the world, some of which are record-holders in their own right.
Highest Temperature Recorded: 104.5ºF/ 40ºC
According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the hottest city on the planet - not because of any particularly impressive peak temperatures, but because it is consistently hot all year round. The city boasts a mean annual temperature of 84.5ºF/ 29ºC, coupled with high humidity and an average of 128 rainy days per year; while the highest temperature on record is 104.5ºF/ 40ºC. Despite Bangkok’s sticky weather, there are plenty of reasons to visit the capital of Thailand, ranging from iconic landmarks like The Grand Palace and Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha), to the city’s bustling street markets and infamous nightlife scene.
Highest Temperature Recorded: 120ºF/ 49ºC.
Located on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, the African city of Timbuktu is synonymous with everything remote. It’s also one of the hottest cities in the world, with a hot, dry climate offering record highs of 120ºF/ 49ºC. Throughout April, May and June, average maximum temperatures exceed 104ºF/ 40ºC. Modern-day Timbuktu is slowly being reclaimed by the desert and is undeniably a shadow of the trade hub that it once was. With a history dating back to the 12th century and a rich heritage of Islamic scholarship, there are still fascinating sights to explore within its ochre-colored walls.
Highest Temperature Recorded: 129ºF/ 54ºC
Built on the banks of the Karun River, Ahvaz is an industrial city with average highs of around 115ºF/ 46ºC during July, its warmest month. The city’s record high is a fever-inducing 129ºF/ 54ºC, making it a contender for hottest place in the world during the summer. Frequent sand and dust storms and an absence of rain from July to September compound its sky-high temperatures. Unlike the rest of Iran, there are few reasons to visit Ahvaz, which was ranked as the world’s most air-polluted city in 2011; however, the riverbank offers a series of parks and bridges that make it both the coolest and the most scenic part of the city.
Highest Temperature Recorded: 126ºF/ 52ºC
This wealthy Arab metropolis is the capital of Kuwait and another contender for the title of one of the hottest cities in the world with average highs of over 113ºF/ 45ºC from June to August. Nightfall brings little respite, with after-dark low temperatures often exceeding 86 °F/ 30°C during the summer months. Kuwait City’s record high is 126ºF/ 52ºC, while it rains on an average of just 19 days per year. Visitors shouldn’t be put off by these eye-watering statistics, however, as Kuwait City offers an intriguing blend of past and present expressed via an eclectic roster of museums, art galleries, upscale malls and traditional souqs.
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Highest Temperature Recorded: 121.6ºF/ 49.8ºC
Famous as the birthplace of Muhammad, Mecca is Islam’s holiest city. It’s also another scorchingly hot destination, with around 22 rainy days per year and average annual highs of 100.5ºF/ 38ºC. The highest temperature recorded in the city is 121.6ºF/ 49.8ºC, but even in winter, average temperatures hover at a balmy 77ºF/ 25ºC. Of course, the majority of Mecca’s visitors aren’t there for the weather - instead, millions of Muslim pilgrims arrive each year to perform the Hajj. The city is home to the world’s largest mosque, Masjid al-Haram, and the Kaaba, considered the House of Allah; however, Mecca is strictly off-limits to non-Muslim visitors, although that may change in the future once Saudi Arabia starts issuing tourist visas to non-Muslims.
Highest Temperature Recorded: 120ºF/ 49ºC
An intoxicating riot of noise and color, semi-arid Marrakech boasts a record high of 120ºF/ 49ºC. The city’s hottest months are July and August, with average highs exceeding 97ºF/ 36ºC. Although sub-freezing temperatures have been recorded in the winter months, Marrakech nevertheless manages to maintain a warm mean annual temperature of 67ºF/ 19.5ºC. A wider temperature spectrum means that visitors can choose to visit during the season that suits them best. Once there, there are plenty of ways to experience the city—from exploring the chaotic souqs of the Medina to relaxing in one of Marrakech’s famous hammam spas.
Highest Temperature Recorded: 122ºF/ 50ºC.
Although Miami has the highest mean annual temperature of any U.S. city, the Arizona capital claims the hottest average highs in summer. Between 1981 and 2010, Phoenix boasted an average of 107 days per year with a high of at least 100 °F/ 38 °C, while the city’s record high is a staggering 122ºF/ 50ºC. With approximately 300 days of sunshine every year, the weather alone is a good reason to visit Phoenix, but the Southwest city also has its fair share of theatres, galleries and sports stadiums. Highlights of what is sometimes the hottest place in the world include the Heard Museum’s Native American artworks, and the breathtaking flora of the Desert Botanical Garden.